Do you like lavender? Plant sage!
Fragrant lavender is not just a popular flower, but a real symbol of the Provence style in the garden and interior. I am also a big fan of lavender, but it just so happened that before I could get its seedlings, I planted oak sage on my flower bed. Subsequently, growing lavender, I was surprised to find that sage surpasses it in many ways, having a similar appearance. What sage turned out to be better than lavender, and in which it is still inferior to it, I will tell in this article.
Sage Oak - plant description
The genus Sage unites many species, but the most widespread in the garden sage oak (Salvia nemorosa) It is distinguished by high winter hardiness, spectacular appearance and a long flowering period.
Externally, this type of sage is very similar to sage meadow (Salvia pratensis) growing in abundance in the meadows of the middle strip. But garden sage blooms much longer than the "wild".
The lower leaves are oblong, slightly wrinkled and wavy along the edges, the upper leaves are smaller, without petioles and sit closely on an elastic tetrahedral stem. Inflorescences of sage oak-shaped spike-shaped from 20 to 40 centimeters long.
The first wave of sage flowering begins in mid-May and early June (in some varieties later) and lasts about two months. During this period, it is impossible to take your eyes off sage, because it is a whole cloud of saturated bright purple inflorescences and is "poured" by a full-flowing river in flower beds.
By the middle-end of July, flowering begins to fade away, and the gardener has two ways: you can leave inflorescences on the bushes, because many varieties keep their shape perfectly and continue to decorate the flower garden. But most often, sage is cut about half. In this case, after a while, the second flowering wave begins, less abundant, but still quite worthy. Moreover, the flowering of bushes continues until late autumn, when there is little flowering.
Like lavender, sage attracts a huge number of butterflies, which literally line up to taste its nectar.
Sage needs a sunny location for plentiful flowering. In general, the plant is unpretentious to the growing conditions, but prefers well-drained (necessarily without stagnation of water) and at the same time quite moisture-resistant soils.
The requirements for fertility are moderate, with respect to pH the best for sage will be lime-rich soils. Plants respond well to moderate fertilizer application at the beginning of the season.
Sage tolerates drought, but in a period of prolonged absence of rain it is better to water it. Sage oak grows well on almost any garden soil with minimal maintenance.
Popular varieties of sage oak
Among sages, one can find both fairly tall and dwarf varieties for rock gardens or the foreground of flower beds. Varieties of sage oak and vary in color. Most varieties have shades of purple. But there are purple, blue and pure white cultivars.
Sage oak "New Dimenshen"
Sage Oak New Dimency (Salvia nemorosa ‘New Dimension’)presented in two versions ‘New Dimension Blue’ with dark purple flowers and ‘New Dimension Rose’ - purple spikelets. This is one of the undersized varieties, its branched bushes in blooming state never exceed 25-30 centimeters. Due to its low growth, this sage can be used together with tall varieties within one flower bed at different levels.
Sage oak "Caradonna"
Sage Oak"Caradonna" (Salvia nemorosa‘Caradonna ’)very popular among landscape designers, as it remains as attractive as possible after flowering. The secret of a long decorative effect is the dark purple color of the stems. Due to this, even completely faded spikelets add color to the flower beds. The color of the flowers is purple. Plant height 40-50 centimeters.
Sage oak "Ostfriesland"
The variety blooms a little later than many other cultivars. Combinations of Sage OakOstfriesland (Salvia nemorosa‘Ostfriesland’) with other varieties will extend the overall flowering period of oak sage in the garden. Tall variety - 50 centimeters. An interesting feature that I noticed in this variety is that the color of its inflorescences is not distorted when photographing, and they look as purple as in reality. While others in the photo come out bluish.
Sage oak "Schwallenburg"
Sage Oak Schwallenburg (Salvia nemorosa‘Schwellenburg’) - a variety with the most original inflorescences, in which it is not easy to recognize sage oak. Its fluffy panicles (in fact, these are wide spike-shaped inflorescences) are more like an astilbe. The inflorescences of this sage consist of many small star-shaped flowers that give the panicles an unusual fluffiness. The height of the bush does not exceed 50 centimeters. The color of the flowers is purple.
Sage oak "Schneehugel"
Sage OakSchneehugel (Salvia nemorosa‘Schneehugel’) has a very rare for sage pure white color. Flowers of a classical form are two-lipped, medium-sized (less than one centimeter). Inflorescences reach a height of 20 to 40 centimeters, the total height of the bush is 50 centimeters. The bushes are compact, well branched. Flowering begins in late June. It goes well with sages of purple varieties.
The benefits of sage over lavender
Now let's take a closer look at the main benefits of sage over lavender.
Sage does not require formation. Lavender is, strictly speaking, a shrub. And she needs a special regular pruning, it can stretch out, fall apart, her bottom is often ugly bare. In particularly severe winters, lavender can freeze or suffer severe damage, in some regions it is recommended to shelter it for the winter. Sometimes in early spring, lavender leaves can burn. After all, whatever you say, this is a winter-green plant of the southern regions.
Sage is a classic herbaceous perennial of the temperate zone. In winter, its aboveground part completely dies, without causing any trouble to the gardener. As soon as the snow melts, its bushes themselves crawl out of the ground and maintain a compact form throughout the season.
Sage is easy to share. Due to the fact that lavender is a shrub and has lignified stems, other difficulties arise. In particular, with reproduction. Just chopping off a piece with a shovel is unlikely to succeed here without harming the mother plant. Most often, lavender is propagated by cuttings or layering. Sage is much easier to divide, like any herbaceous perennial.
Read more about the reproduction of lavender in the article Lavender in the fall - care and reproduction.
Sage is easy to grow from seed. It is sown indoors in March, and the seeds usually germinate easily without any additional agronomic techniques. Seedlings bloom in the first year, and this flowering can be called quite full. Young sages immediately become a worthy decoration of the flower garden along with old-timers.
Lavender seeds, due to the high content of essential oils, can have difficulties with germination. It is impossible to grow lavender seedlings from seeds without stratification. Lavender seedlings usually bloom only in the second year and develop slowly.
Sage can be reproduced by self-seeding. If you leave part of the faded spikelets of sage from the first wave of flowering, then it often gives a good self-sowing. At the same time, it cannot be called an aggressor. Young outlets appear in small quantities and they can be transplanted to a new place, or give. And if there is no need for offspring, then you can just cut the spikelets at the end of flowering.
Lavender does not always give self-seeding, but in any case, young plants do not develop too quickly.
The benefits of lavender over sage
And now let's note the advantages of lavender over sage:
Scent. Whatever you say, but the scent of lavender is inimitable and has a positive effect on the human psyche (in particular, improves sleep). Sage foliage also has a tangible aroma and is used in aromatherapy. But still it is impossible to compare these two smells, they are too different in nature. Nevertheless, the aroma of lavender has a much larger number of fans than the peculiar smell of sage.
Decorative foliage. Sage leaves have no decorative effect. They have an unremarkable shape and the most common dark green color. But lavender has a very beautiful decorative foliage of silver color. Its fluffy silver bushes with fine narrow foliage serve as decoration of the garden and without flowering. And in the southern regions with mild winters, this winter-green shrub decorates the site even in winter.
Lavender is almost a brand. Still, lavender is lavender. And its appearance on the site is like an introduction to the cozy atmosphere of Provence and French culture. Probably, almost every grower who has at least one bush of this plant in the garden always proudly says to the guests, “here I have lavender”. But sage, like an ordinary flower of meadows, is perceived as something ordinary and natural, because it is not an overseas curiosity.
Lavender and sage in my garden
I do not urge to completely abandon the lavender in the garden. Both plants grow on my site. But still, I grow lavender only a couple of bushes for aromatherapy. But as a decorative plant in landscape design, I still prefer to use sage.
It is represented in my garden by a large number of specimens of various varieties, and forms large curtains in flower beds or along paths. Sage is especially gorgeous in a natural style mixborder, where it forms harmonious compositions with perennials and perennials with chamomile inflorescences (coreopsis, echinacea, dwarf asters, rudbeckia, chamomile, gaylardia).
As you know, the combination of vertical and horizontal forms is a popular technique in landscape design. And probably for good reason such expressive contrasts with the participation of sharp sage spiers are at the peak of fashion today.